In January 2018, I started a personal project titled Georgian Fairy Tales—a tribute to Georgia's rich mythical heritage. The first episode was devoted to Dáli, the goddess of animals and the patron of hunting.
“In the olden days, Georgians spoke of a mythical patron of hunters and animals, a pagan goddess of forests and mountains. Named Dáli, she was often depicted as a young woman of blinding beauty…”
It took almost a year to prepare for the shoot, and a month to produce it: from designing the mask to scanning the negatives.
“A strong and independent spirit, Dáli was responsible for maintaining a balanced and respectful relationship between hunters and their prey. She would keep the human appetite in check, only letting them take what they needed to eat and to feed their villages. Sometimes, an especially worthy hunter would even be rewarded with Dáli's love, and in some cases—gifted with a magical artifact, enhancing his hunting skills. Those encounters would usually come with a bonding promise to keep them secret. Breaking such an oath would end with the hunter's death.”
“However, after Christianity spread to Georgia, the role of the patron of hunting passed on to Saint George, the country's heavenly protector. Unable to withstand the competition with a rival this strong, Dáli starts to be depicted as an animal-like creature, a beast who posed great danger to man. Everything good in her is denied...”
The project began with assembling a moodboard, depicting sources of inspiration, describing mask details, atmosphere and color tones for the pictures.
“This metamorphosis from spirit to animal—from goddess to monster—took place against the backdrop of the struggle between Paganism and Christianity in Georgia: an epic conflict between the old gods and the new Saints, between the primeval feminine magic and the male-dominated religion, Nature and the unchecked expansion of human ambition.”
Photographs are available as limited edition 30×40 analog silver prints (BW) and 50×60 C-prints (color). You may also buy the digital prints from the Fotografia gallery →→
Production crew
Model: Irina Petrova
Mask engineer/technical director — Timur Ivanov
General producer/BTS-photographer — Giga Siprashvili
Assistant — George Kolbaia

Special thanks to SBF Moscow/Sinar Swiss for technical support
Developed and scanned by DPartphoto (Moscow)